TAKE A SAD SONG… The Emotional Currency of “Hey Jude”

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In Take a Sad Song: The Emotional Currency of “Hey Jude,” James Campion dives deeply into the song’s origins, recording, visual presentation, impact, and eventual influence, while also discovering what makes “Hey Jude” a classic musical expression of personal comfort and societal unity conceived by a master songwriter, Paul McCartney. Within its melodic brilliance and lyrical touchstones of empathy and nostalgia resides McCartney’s personal and professional relationship with his childhood friend and songwriting partner, John Lennon, and their simultaneous pursuit of the women who would complete them. There are also clues to the growing turmoil within the Beatles and their splintering generation scarred by war, assassination, and virulent protest.

Campion’s journey into the song includes the insights of experts in the fields of musicology, sociology, philosophy, psychology, and history. Campion also reveals commentary from noted Beatles authors, biographers, music historians, and journalists and, finally, a peek into the craft of songwriting from a host of talented composers across several generations. 

Take a Sad Song is a tribute to how a song can define, inspire, and affect us in ways we do not always fully comprehend, as well as a celebration of a truly amazing track in the Beatles canon that reveals one band’s genius and underscores its lasting voice in our cultural and musical landscape.

“What James Campion has done is take the song ‘Hey Jude,’ explain its great presence in the history of twentieth-century music and society, and put it squarely in its times and ours. He shows how the connection of the four boys from Liverpool, but especially McCartney/Lennon, were the conduit of all that happened from the early joyous 1960s to the fracturing world of the end of that decade. Using his own perspective and that of others—scholars, musicians—he is able to parse the story and make it fresh and pertinent and moving. I didn’t think anyone could write anything ‘new’ about the Beatles, but, somehow, he’s done it.”

Michael Lindsay-Hogg, director of the “Hey Jude” promo film Let It Be and The Rolling Stones Rock & Roll Circus

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